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Life In The Country
by [?]

But what is to be done? Surely it is not we who have done this? And if not we, who then?

We say: “We have not done this, this has done itself;” as the children say, when they break any thing, that it broke itself. We say, that, so long as there is a city already in existence, we, by living in it, support the people, by purchasing their labor and services. But this is not so. And this is why. We only need to look ourselves, at the way we have in the country, and at the manner in which we support people there.

The winter passes in town. Easter Week passes. On the boulevards, in the gardens in the parks, on the river, there is music. There are theatres, water-trips, walks, all sorts of illuminations and fireworks. But in the country there is something even better,–there are better air, trees and meadows, and the flowers are fresher. One should go thither where all these things have unfolded and blossomed forth. And the majority of wealthy people do go to the country to breathe the superior air, to survey these superior forests and meadows. And there the wealthy settle down in the country, and the gray peasants, who nourish themselves on bread and onions, who toil eighteen hours a day, who get no sound sleep by night, and who are clad in blouses. Here no one has led these people astray. There have been no factories nor industrial establishments, and there are none of those idle hands, of which there are so many in the city. Here the whole population never succeeds, all summer long, in completing all their tasks in season; and not only are there no idle hands, but a vast quantity of property is ruined for the lack of hands, and a throng of people, children, old men, and women, will perish through overstraining their powers in work which is beyond their strength. How do the rich order their lives there? In this fashion:–

If there is an old-fashioned house, built under the serf regime, that house is repaired and embellished; if there is none, then a new one is erected, of two or three stories. The rooms, of which there are from twelve to twenty, and even more, are all six arshins in height. {1} Wood floors are laid down. The windows consist of one sheet of glass. There are rich rugs and costly furniture. The roads around the house are macadamized, the ground is levelled, flower-beds are laid out, croquet- grounds are prepared, swinging-rings for gymnastics are erected, reflecting globes, often orangeries, and hotbeds, and lofty stables always with complicated scroll-work on the gables and ridges.

[Note:
{1} An arshin is twenty-eight inches.]

And here, in the country, an honest educated official, or noble family dwells. All the members of the family and their guests have assembled in the middle of June, because up to June, that is to say, up to the beginning of mowing-time, they have been studying and undergoing examinations; and they live there until September, that is to say, until harvest and sowing-time. The members of this family (as is the case with nearly every one in that circle) have lived in the country from the beginning of the press of work, the suffering time, not until the end of the season of toil (for in September sowing is still in progress, as well as the digging of potatoes), but until the strain of work has relaxed a little. During the whole of their residence in the country, all around them and beside them, that summer toil of the peasantry has been going on, of whose fatigues, no matter how much we may have heard, no matter how much we may have heard about it, no matter how much we may have gazed upon it, we can form no idea, unless we have had personal experience of it. And the members of this family, about ten in number, live exactly as they do in the city.